The novel starts out with an unnamed man who is wandering the streets of Halifax. As it turns out, this is Neil Macrae, returned home from the War. He had grown up in the city, living with his uncle's family, the Wains, all of whom despised him, except for his cousin Penny. When Neil went overseas, he was assigned to the regiment under his Uncle Geoffrey's command. An attack rashly planned by Col. Wain went disastrously wrong, and many men were killed. Wain blamed the debacle on Neil, saying that he disobeyed a direct order. He had his nephew arrested and charged with cowardice. Before he could be court-martialed, however, the dugout in which he was imprisoned was shelled. After the battle, he was found badly injured, unconscious, and lacking any ID. Hospitalized in England, and temporarily suffering from amnesia, Neil was mistakenly identified as an English soldier. He eventually regained his memory, but retained his new identity, since he would be arrested again if anyone knew who he really was. Left with a limp from his injuries, and suffering from shell shock, he was released from military service. He has returned to Nova Scotia to look for Alex Mackenzie, the corporal who had brought him the orders from Geoffrey during the battle, and had taken back his reply. He is the only man who can prove that Neil's uncle is lying, and clear his name.